Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rest #1

Writer: Mark Powers
Artists: Shawn McManus & Lizzy John
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Stephen Christy
(Devil's Due Publishing, $3.50)

This is the second comic I've seen recently with a movie production company's logo attached. Rest is "produced" by Heroes actor Milo Ventimiglia and his collaborator Russ Cundiff, via their company DiVide Pictures. I've wondered before about why a production company would bother going to the trouble of turning a concept into a comic. Wikipedia helpfully offers an explanation by pointing out that the series was conceived during the writers' strike, which didn't extend to comics.

Anyway, Rest is a curious thing. John Barrett is a beleaguered, tired office worker in New York, who eats, works and sleeps. You know the type of character. But then he's approached by old friend Teddy, who offers John the chance to get involved in this great new product he's working on: a drug that removes the need to sleep. Now you can stay wide awake all the time and add eight hours to your day. Isn't that awesome?

This is quite an interesting idea; it's easy to see the appeal of adding another 50% to your waking hours, simply in terms of free time. And there's something primal and a little mysterious about sleep, and why we need it, all of which could make for a promising story.

Whether Rest is that story... well, that's not so clear from the first issue. There are quite a few pointers suggesting a "nasty pharmaceutical company conceals side effects" stories; there are also some suggesting a drug addiction analogy. There's a male bonding angle as well. The story could go either way; it could be a trite rehearsal of familiar plots, or it could use them as a framework to do something more interesting. Or it could be an utter mess.

The series is actually based on an unfilmed screenplay by Michael O'Sullivan, but for the comics, we have writer Mark Powers (presumably the same guy who used to edit the X-Men) and artist Shawn McManus. It's all thoroughly competent but perhaps lacking a little spark. The characters all have well-defined roles, but beyond that, they're rather generic; and the art is a little too bland to change that.

But the concept is intriguing, and I'm at least curious to know what the angle is here. There's something here, I think, even though I'm not quite sure what.

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